The power of anecdotes

August 28th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in anecdotes, bad science, big pharma, media, statistics | 53 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 28 August 2010

For simpletons and amateurs, there are good research methods, and bad research methods. In reality, different tools are valuable in different situations, and sometimes, even very tiny numbers of people can give you a meaningful piece of information: even an anecdote can be informative. Read the rest of this entry »

So brilliantly you’ve presented a really transgressive case through the mainstream media

December 5th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in anecdotes, bad science, evidence | 57 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, Saturday 5 December 2009, The Guardian

Here is a mystery. Rom Houben, a Belgian man, was diagnosed as being in a coma for 23 years, and he has now made a partial recovery. This has been demonstrated with a series of recently developed brain scanning techniques (whose predictive value is not entirely known, but they are promising), and he is also opening his eyes. But the story goes further than that: it is also claimed that he was conscious all along, but simply unable to move, a well-documented phenomena called “locked in syndrome”. This has been reported as a news story around the world, in The Sun, Sky news, CNN, the BBC, the Telegraph (repeatedly), Der Spiegel, Australian TV News, The Guardian (in 4 separate pieces) and hundreds more.

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